Deep Thoughts Modeling

Deep Thoughts: A Scale Modeling Gift Guide

When I was a young kid, it was easy to let it be known what I wanted for Christmas. I simply wrote a letter to Santa. I’d explain how I’d been a good kid… well… mostly, and that I wasn’t really asking for very much at all, so if you wouldn’t mind sir, here is a list of things I’d like. Easy enough. I’d hand the letter over to my mom, who always promised to mail it off for me. And Christmas morning, many of the things I asked for would appear, and even a few other things.

When I got a bit older, and Santa apparently quit wanting me to write, I’d notate things in the Sears catalog. I’d hand it over to mom, and I suppose she put in a good word for me at the North Pole, because things still showed up.

Once I got older though, the process seemed to derail. I’d just get all sorts of stuff. A few folks would ask “what would you like for Christmas”, and based on the results, it seemed they communicated the information to the jolly fellow. But I think some folks just went about it willy-nilly, and this resulted in all sorts of useless nonsense, like socks, shirts, sweaters, pants, and the odd coffeecup or keychain.

Thus, in an effort to break this cycle, I’m providing this list for the esteemed readers of this blog. You can simply share this link on social media, and with minimal instructions – such as “anything on the page”, or “any Bandai Star Wars”, or something with more specificity, you can broadcast what you want to the world, and this information is certainly going to find its way to the Kringle household. Then you just need to sit back and wait for the colorful packages to arrive.

Kits

Gunpla

If you’ve never built a Bandai kit from Mobile Suit Gundam, now is as good a time as any to start.

HGUC RX-78-2 – This model represents the granddaddy of all Gundam. It’s also one of the best examples of the High Grade 1/144th scale line you can find, and is great for a beginner or seasoned builder. While it’s not the most detailed of Bandai Gunpla kits, you will find it to be quite fun to assemble.

RG MS-06F Zaku II – This guy is the antagonist for the RX-78-2. While simpler High Grade versions are available, this Real Grade version in 1/144th scale steps up the detail, with a full inner frame, much more detail, and a very cool look. It’s still easy enough for the beginner, but is sure to please the advanced Gunpla enthusiast.

RGM-79SP GM Sniper II – Bandai makes more than 1/144th scale. Moving up a size to 1/100th scale, their Master Grade line also features a full inner frame, plenty of detail and articulation, and lots of modeling goodness to paint and weather. And while there are many great kits available, the Sniper II is one of the finest Master Grade kits you’ll find. And it looks so very cool.

Maschinen Krieger

Unfortunately, Maschinen Krieger kits can be a little more difficult to find at a reasonable price. Produced in much smaller numbers than other kit lines, they are nevertheless quite enjoyable, and have a very unique aesthetic to them. For the scifi builder, they are one of those “must build at least one” kits. But once you build one, you’ll likely be finding them on your workbench more and more.

Kauz – Just recently released – and thus more readily available, is Wave’s 1/20 scale Kauz. While each kit in the line has its own distinct features and look, they also have a many similarities in layout and build sequence. The Kauz will be another one that is great for the first time Ma. K builder, and yet also a very satisfying kit for the advanced modeler. But get it quick!

Bandai Star Wars

You may be thinking “but Bandai isn’t the only one who makes Star Wars…” And you would be correct. However, I don’t think any other maker’s line of Star Wars kits even approaches Bandai’s quality and fit. And their line is diverse enough to keep you busy for quite a while.

Snowspeeder – A classic from The Empire Strikes Back, the Snowspeeder kit is one of the finest examples of the Bandai Star Wars line. Being in 1/48 scale, it offers a nice size for painting and weathering. In terms of detail, it’s absolutely fantastic, with two crew figures, a full interior, and plenty of greeblies on the exterior. Yet it is friendly for any level of builder.

AT-ST – Yet another kit featured in Empire Strikes Back, and also in Return of the Jedi, this model is also in 1/48 scale. It wonderfully recreates the iconic “chicken walker” of the Star Wars universe, and just begs to be painted and weathered. Packed with detail inside and out, it is a stunner of a kit. Combine it with the Snowspeeder, and you have a lot of diorama potential.

TIE Fighter – While there are many great examples of the various star fighters featured in the Star Wars series, I don’t think any I’ve built has been as simple, satisfying, and yet detailed at the plain old original TIE Fighter. A ping pong ball suspended between waffle irons. But it is a wonderful kit that provides more fun than a barrel full of stormtroopers. This one is 1/72 scale.

Han Solo Stormtrooper – Bandai also makes a full range of figures from the Star Wars universe. Each is highly detailed, easy to build, and looks great. Picking one is difficult, but certainly one of the more unique ones would be Han Solo in the Stormtrooper armor, an iconic look from Star Wars.

Warhammer 40K

While many people think of the 40K universe as a tabletop game only, the Citadel models are actually wonderful scifi kits in their own right. And while they tend to be a bit more expensive than other models, there are some really fun bargains that can give you a taste of what its like to build one.

Space Marine Rhino – Certainly one of the most recognizable kits in the game, the squarish Rhino is a wonderfully detailed build that offers plenty of chances to weather it up. Simple enough for a young builder, and detailed for the advanced, it offers a great value in terms of time spent painting and detailing it. And if you check out Warhammer TV on Youtube, you can even see demonstrations on how to paint and weather it!

Space Marine Landspeeder Storm – This is a great choice on several levels. The kits provides a cool vehicle to build and detail, but also comes with six beautifully sculpted figures to ride along. This gives plenty of opportunity to work on both disciplines – figures and vehicles. And given the amount of plastic in the box, the price is outstanding.

Razorwing Jetfighter – One of the coolest looking flyers in the 40K, this one will evoke thoughts of Batman on steroids. Angular and mysterious, it will provide the basic aesthetics of a jet, the imagination of scifi, all pulled together in the unique way that Citadel’s Warhammer 40K models build and look.

Tools

You can’t build all those models without tools. And while there are far too many cool tools to list, here are a few that I think any modeler will find useful. And even if you already have them, they’re always going to need replacing – so why not have one standing by?

Stir tool – I’d seen people using various electric stir tools, but I never thought much of them – until I got one.  Now I would never want to be without at least two! They do a great job of thoroughly stirring your paint up. But more than that, they keep the neck  and lid of your paint bottles free from dried paint that comes from shaking the bottle up. I’ve noticed my paints last much longer, and I attribute it to this simple tool. While any brand should work, I like using Badger’s Paint Mixer for my stirring.

Bulk #11 hobby knife blades – Many of the tools we use are expendable, and if you build a good number of models, you can go through them fast. Buying a large bulk of the ubiquitous #11 hobby knife blades means you won’t have to worry about changing blades whenever needed. I’ve been buying these for years, and found them to work great.

Nippers –  Getting your plastic parts off the sprue cleanly is important. For years I soldiered along with the basic craft store cutters. I finally decided to spend a bit more, and what a difference it made! Premium cutters do a great job of making a very clean final cut to clean up nubs from your kit’s parts. And while there are many fine brands and grades available, the “house brand” single blade nipper from USAGundamStore.com, as well Tamiya’s Sharp Pointed Cutters,  are both very affordable and high quality choices. This is certainly a tool that you can tell several people “this is what I want”, and receiving multiples won’t be a problem!

Paints and Brushes

Paints are an expendable that we can never seem to get enough of, but we also need a very diverse range of colors. Still, we can never have too much of the basic colors. So this Vallejo Basic Set is a perfect choice to point others too. Vallejo’s paints are some of the best acrylics around, and work in any genre. With this set, you can cover a lot of ground – and even mix up a huge variety of custom colors if you need to. The basics never go out of style!

Paint brushes are another expendable that we can never have too many. And while the preference of type and size may vary, there are always a few types that seem to be an across the board need for any modeler. For a premium natural brush, look no further than the Winsor and Newton Series 7 line. While many sizes are available, I find the #2 size to be the one I grab for most often when needing a really good quality brush.

Of course, not every budget can handle the price of a single premium brush. The Army Painter Most Wanted Brush Set provides three very high quality natural brushes for about the same price as a single Series 7.  The set comes with a detail brush, a general purpose brush, and a wide brush for drybrushing, and is the perfect addition for any genre’s bristle arsenal.

While having some high-quality brushes is important, quite often I just need a basic, get it done brush that I don’t need to worry about. Buying cheap synthetic brushes in quantity has a certain quality all its own. I purchased this 60 pack of brushes in the #000 size, and find that I get plenty of good use from them for about 6 months – which is 15-20 builds for me. When they start wearing out, I toss them and grab another. At this rate, I won’t run out until I’m in my 80s!

Easy Peasy

So there you go – a simple, concise Christmas gift guide for anyone to refer to. Let them know what you like, ask them to pass it along to Santa, and that’s it. You’ll have fun on Christmas morning.

Just be sure and leave out some milk and cookies for Santa. You wouldn’t want to end up on the naughty list next year. you might find a Special Hobby kit or a Trumpeter Scribing Tool waiting for you… a fate worse than coal!

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